The Other Bracketology: the Race for #SoMeT12

March 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

As I write this, Cleveland is less than an hour away from pulling off a comeback win against Kansas City in the first round of the Social Media Tourism Symposium’s (SoMeT12) “March Madness”-style bracket.  Being a Clevelander, I am, of course, blindly promoting the city as the venue for this year’s symposium—hence the jabs at those Kansas Citians (yes, that is the correct demonym) on the other side of the Internet. Sorry guys, tough loss.

But Cleveland is not the only Rustbelt city involved in this tournament: Buffalo and St. Louis have already moved on to the second round, while Milwaukee will be taking on Lehigh Valley, PA tomorrow.  What does it mean that out of a field of 16 competitors, four of them are Rustbelt cities that will be featured in our second Midwest Sustainable Cities Symposium this September?

Based on a recent study from Bloomberg Business Week, we at MSCS reckon that the Social Media Tourism Symposium’s choice to include four Rustbelt cities is reflects the rise in tech jobs in the region. Bloomberg includes four cities that will be appearing in our Symposium—Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Cleveland—which are ranked tenth, third, second, and first respectively for tech job growth. Although Cleveland is the only city to appear in both the SMTS bracket and Bloomberg’s rankings, it nonetheless demonstrates that tech-related jobs are growing across the entire region—and with this “mini-boom,” national perceptions of the Rustbelt are changing.

As for the cities that don’t appear in either Bloomberg’s rankings or the SMTS bracket, their absence says a lot about the renewal of the Rustbelt. For example, more obvious candidates—Chicago, New York, Seattle, Silicon Valley and North Carolina’s Tech Triangle—do not appear on either list. As these are well-established US tech centers, growth of tech jobs, while certainly a real trend, may be less dramatic. That being said, it is encouraging that the industry is no longer confined to these areas, and more and more companies are attracted to the low cost of living, the existing infrastructure, and educated populations of the Rustbelt.  For instance, our friends in St. Louis, ranked 7th nationally in tech job growth, are simply killing it with a 26% increase in tech-related jobs.

Now for the Midwest Sustainable Cities Symposium’s official SoMeT12 predictions.  You can follow along on the bracket below.

Round 2

Cleveland vs. Knoxville

For the second round, I expect Cleveland to defeat Knoxville, TN for a few reasons. Cleveland is a larger city, with a larger metropolitan area, and the voter turnout last night was almost four times that of any other city’s turnout in this competition thus far (save Kansas City, who put up a fantastic—but what can you say? this is Cleveland). Clevelanders have a proven track record of winning online voting competitions no matter how banal they may be (how about Petyon Hillis on the cover of Madden 2012?).

Buffalo vs. El Paso

I believe Buffalo will defeat whichever city they face from Texas for the same reasons that Milwaukee defeated Lehigh Valley: it’s a large city with a large metropolitan area, and they’ll do a better job of simply getting the vote out.  But this time there will be an increased emphasis on Buffalo’s metropolitan population, which is reasonably larger than El Paso. This should be a close one, and Buffalo will really have to make sure it gets people out to vote, but I think they can do it. I also think Buffalo has soul.

St. Louis vs. Milwaukee

The big matchup in Round 2 is St. Louis vs. Milwaukee, which, truth be told, I would rather see in the Final Four. I’m going with my gut on this one and I predict that St. Louis will advance to the third round. Sorry, Milwaukee. This is once again based on quasi-science and statistics and comes down to St. Louis’ metropolitan population, which is twice the size of Milwaukee’s. Furthermore, although I’m no expert on St. Louis and am only acquainted with a few St. Louisians, they strike me as a people who are, in a good way, absolutely rabid about their city. I think their tenacity will help defeat Milwaukee.

Round 3

Cleveland vs Buffalo

Cleveland will win. There is no doubt in my mind on this one, presuming both cities make it to the Final Four. Cleveland has a larger population, larger metropolitan area and the proven ability to get people to vote.

St. Louis vs. the winner of Baltimore vs. Pocono Mountains, PA (most likely Baltimore)

I’m beginning to get too speculative here, but I think St. Louis will easily defeat Pocono Mountains, PA. However, a matchup between St. Louis and Baltimore will truly be one for the ages. Although St. Louis’ city proper is half the size of Baltimore’s, their metropolitan populations are roughly the same. I’m still going with St. Louis on this as they are not only a Rustbelt city, but also because St. Louisians’ diehard character.

The Finals

I am not making a prediction on this one. I would love Cleveland to win, and I think we have the ability to make our votes punch above our population’s weight, but then again, St. Louis has the larger metropolitan area by roughly 500,000 people. This is going to be the perfect headliner: small and scrappy vs. big and intense.

I’ll try to keep up to date with this bracket. As long as one of our four rust-belt cities wins, I’ll die happy. If Pocono Mountains, PA takes the whole thing, I’m moving to Canada.

Brad Nosan, co-founder

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